Monday, July 25, 2011

White Bean Salad

It’s been hot outside, y’all.

I know; nobody takes my complaints of a heat wave seriously since I’ve moved to the great white north, but in the summer, the prairie gets to scorching on the odd day here and there. And so my oven and I? We had a little bit of a. . .brief falling out after two days of heating it up to 500 F for pizza dough applications.

Don’t worry, we’ve made up. . .and I’ve got the banana bread to prove it. Wink wink. 

Even so, for a couple days, I had nothing but cold dishes on the mind - and you know what? In the heat, I don’t really feel like consuming big hunks of meat, either, no matter how delicious. 

And so that’s how I came to make this cold vegetarian white bean salad. I love everything about it. 

I think this is really as summer as it gets. You don’t even have to glance at your oven for this recipe, it’s the simplest thing, a matter of chopping a little red onion, a few fresh herbs, and opening a couple cans. Yes, I said cans. Shh. Nobody has to know. 

And the dressing? Oh gosh, you guys, this dressing. I bet you can make it from things you already have in your pantry, and there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t. It’s light and tangy and flavorful, and very given to a little tweaking this way or that depending on what you’re pairing the dish with. I’ve got a mason jar of it in my fridge, and I’ve been shaking it up each day right before drizzling a little of it on some of the salad greens Sparky’s grandmother gave us from her garden. 

Even better, unlike most salads, this bean salad only improves after a few hours (or even a couple days) in the fridge. And while I find it’s best served cold, it would definitely stand up to a pot luck buffet where it might get to room temperature instead.

As a side note, living with boys (i.e., Sparky and his brother) has made adept at feeding carnivores, and admittedly, I enjoy a good steak or a pork loin as much as the next southern barbeque baby, but when I’m cooking for myself, I find I eat vegetarian dishes as much as not. That said, there are many benefits (both for your health and for the environment) associated with cutting meat out of your diet one day a week. If you are so inclined, a protein-rich legume dish such as this makes an excellent stand-in for meat. 

And if you’re serving this next to a strip loin, or (like we did) vinegar glossed chicken? That’s okay too, this dish is delish, any way you serve it. 

Check after the jump for the recipe for the salad and the amazing vinaigrette that goes on it. . . Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. 

Both this white bean salad recipe and the recipe for the vinaigrette are excerpted from Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn. Though I've never seen the television show that the book is based on, the book itself is excellent, and I’ve used quite a few of the recipes to feed myself and other females and not only boys. I’d definitely recommend it. Here's the TV show's blog, for more inspiration.

I did adapt each of the recipes slightly, but only in the quantities that I used, which is a matter of personal preference. 

White Bean Salad
from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn
serves 6 to 8

3 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained (I used organic navy beans, because that’s what I could find)
½ cup chopped red onion (thinly sliced)
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh dill, mint or basil (optional – I used basil)
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 recipe Rose’s Vinaigrette (see below)
3 scallions (aka green onions), green part only, finely sliced

Drain and rinse the beans. Place in a large bowl with red onion, parsley, herbs, salt and pepper. Slowly stir in the dressing – to taste, you might not need the whole recipe. Garnish with sliced green onions. The salad will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Regan’s note: It’s better if you can refrigerate it for a couple hours before serving. 

Miss Maillard's New Favorite Vinaigrette
from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn
makes 1 cup 

1 tablespoon minced shallot or garlic (I used garlic)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (2-3 shakes)
2 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a mason jar or a bowl, use a fork to mash the shallot or garlic with the mustard, the brown sugar, the Worcestershire, the salt and the pepper. Pour in the vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. If you’re using a jar, screw on the lid, wrap the jar in a dish towel and shake the heck out of it until the mixture emulsifies (that is to say, combines to a smooth sauce). If you’re using a bowl, use a whisk to whisk it until it is emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly. This keeps exceptionally well in the fridge, and only improves with age.


  1. I will make this dressing and it will be in my belly by noon tomorrow. Sounds SO GOOD!

  2. Pleaaaaase make this. It totally changed my life for a few days. Amazing.


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